Malacañang orders agencies to display photos of heroes, not officials

Paterno Esmaquel II
The directive, which also covers public schools, is meant 'to strengthen the people's nationalism'

CHIEF EXECUTIVE. President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at the 120th founding anniversary of the Department of Justice on September 26, 2017. Malacañang photo

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang ordered government agencies and public schools to replace the photos of government officials with images of 14 Philippine heroes, from Lapu-Lapu to Jose Rizal. 

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea made this directive “by authority of the President” through Memorandum Circular 25 signed on September 15 and released to the media on Wednesday, September 27.

“All government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned or -controlled corporations, state universities and colleges, and public schools of all levels, are hereby directed to display or exhibit the photographs, paintings, or other forms of visual representations of Philippine heroes in lieu of the photographs, paintings, or other forms of visual representations of elected or appointed government officials,” the memorandum circular read. 

The directive is meant “to strengthen the people’s nationalism, love of country, and respect for its heroes.”

The memorandum circular came with the following list of Philippine heroes as identified by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines: 

  • Jose Rizal
  • Andres Bonifacio
  • Emilio Aguinaldo
  • Apolinario Mabini
  • Marcelo del Pilar
  • Juan Luna
  • Melchora Aquino
  • Gabriela Silang
  • Lapu-Lapu
  • Father Jose Burgos
  • Father Mariano Gomez
  • Father Jacinto Zamora
  • Emilio Jacinto
  • Jose Abad Santos 

Earlier, Duterte said on July 18 that he was planning to issue a decree to remove his and other officials’ photos in government buildings.

The President said he made the same order when he was Davao City mayor. (READ: Duterte: Harness Filipino heroes’ virtues to fight crime, poverty)

“Gusto ko ‘yung picture ng mga hero natin, ma-emulate ng mga bata. Eh ‘yung iba diyan sa picture, limang beses na dumaan ng graft and corruption sa kaso eh,” Duterte said. (I want the photos of our heroes displayed, so that our children can emulate them. Others in photos have gone through 5 graft and corruption cases.) –

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at